Eagles of Death Metal Reflect on Living With Bataclan, Becoming Closer as a Band

Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Eagles of Death Metal take a bow after their performance at L'Olympia on Feb. 16, 2016 in Paris.

Watch a performance from their 'I Love You All The Time -- Live From the Olympia' DVD

Even 17 and a half months after the fact, Eagles of Death Metal's Jesse Hughes gets unapologetically emotional about his band's concert at the Olympia Hall in Paris.

The Feb. 16, 2016 show marked EODM's headlining return to the city after terrorists opened fire during their Nov. 13 concert at Le Bataclan, killing 89 people, including EODM's merch manager. Hughes and company made a brief appearance with U2 the following month, but the Olympia show was the group's real opportunity for healing. 

"Leaving that Paris show, I was reinvigorated completely," Hughes tells Billboard. "Every person showed up for us that night. They were there for rock n' roll, without fear, having a good time. You can see on that DVD every person in the crowd enjoying themselves to the fullest and consequences be damned. That was rock n' roll fans saying to me, 'You don't get to fall by the wayside. You've got to keep entertaining us, so you better do what you've got to do to make that possible.'"

Ahead of the DVD's Friday (Aug. 4) release, check out the group performing "Wannabe In L.A." exclusively below from I Love You All The Time -- Live From the Olympia.

"I wanted to do as much stupid shit and fun shit as possible," he says of the performance, which also featured EODM co-founder Josh Homme joining the band on drums. "It was a really critical moment in my whole career. This is when I was deciding to say, 'Fuck it, I'm just gonna perform. Nothing's gonna stop me from being with my people, and I don't care what happens. (The terrorists) are not gonna win.' I was committed to winning, so to speak. How could I do any less?"

Hughes recalls that he was also buoyed by some very concrete support by local law enforcement at the Olympia that night. "When I came out alone, by myself, after the band had come off for the encore I was looking at the faces in the crowd, and I recognized some of the policemen who had been at the show at the Bataclan," he says. "When I looked at them all of the officers looked at me and opened up their coats so I could see they were armed. After the show they were like, 'We just wanted you to see we had your back.' That's when I was able to relax a little bit and really get on with the show."

Hughes says he's still haunted by what happened at the Bataclan and does not foresee a time when that won't be the case. But it's also made him more defiant about moving on and continuing to create and perform. "For me, my behavior since (the Bataclan) has been informed by the concept that I don't want to be haunted by 89 people; I want to be accompanied by 89 souls," Hughes explains. "Normally something like what happened in Paris would make you a little more shy of the world at large, but it's had the opposite effect. I want to live every day doing something. I want to hone my craft. I love what I do. This is the greatest job I've ever had in my life. Even the worst days in my showbiz life are better than the best day I've had in my regular life. That show at the Olympia represented a lot, for everybody. It really gave me a whole new life."

Hughes is certainly making good use of that fresh lease these days. He wrote the score for the upcoming film Super Troopers 2: The Time Is Meow, which is expected out later this year. Meanwhile, he and Homme have been writing songs for the next EODM album, the follow-up to 2015's Zipper Down, with plans to start recording during the fall. But Hughes predicts there will be a different approach to making the album this time. 

"This is a band now," Hughes says. "Before it was Joshua (Homme) and I doing everything and performing (live) has been with a lineup we'd put together. But coming out of the (Batacalan) and the Olympia show there's some bonds. The idea that every member is equally important as everyone else really started to come forward. We're all able to see each other as band members. We understand we all need each other. That's been a critically important side effect that came out of all this. Now we're a band, and we're fuckin' deadly unstoppable."